11/29: Florida vs. Florida State post-game: Gators win a nail-biter in Gainesville on Friday

By Adam Silverstein
November 30, 2013

No. 13/15 Florida Gators basketball (6-1) came through in the clutch, inching out a 67-66 victory over their in-state rival Florida State Seminoles (5-2) on Friday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the hard-fought win, Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to offer up some of his thoughts.


» Florida has now won five-straight games against Florida State and increased its all-time series lead to 43-22 (12-7 under Donovan). UF is now 21-6 against FSU at home (7-1 under Donovan).
» The Gators have won 20-straight games at home in the O’Dome and 21 in a row against non-conference opponents on their home court.
» Florida’s senior class (2010) is just the second in school history, following in the footsteps of the 2009 class, to never lose to its in-state rivals.
» After failing to win a single-digit decision last season (0-6) and combining to drop eight straight such decisions dating back to March 10, 2012, the Gators are 2-1 this season in similar opportunities.
» Florida picked up its first victory by a single point since Feb. 12, 2011.
» The Gators have outrebounded their opponents in five-straight games.


All tied up at 66 with 22.4 seconds to play, senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin ran out the clock, began to drive to the paint but stopped and missed a pull-up jumper. Redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith grabbed the rebound, got fouled and sunk the game-winning point. Donovan went through the situation after the game.

“[Wilbekin] didn’t make the right read on the play. We executed the timing of the play very well. When Scottie went, I wish he would’ve driven all the way to the rim and provided some help,” he said. “What was open was Dorian was open at the top of the key and instead he took a pull-up shot. The one thing that did happen was when Dorian was at the top of the key, it gave him a free run in.

“I thought our guys, I thought Scottie executed really, really well because we didn’t give them a chance to call timeout. We only left them 1.3 seconds and we gave ourselves a chance to offensive rebound. … I thought Scottie could’ve turned the corner and kind of gotten to the rim and got it up on the glass. But he took a pull-up and the same thing happened for us. We gave ourselves a chance to offensive rebound.”

FSU nearly made UF pay in that time, inbounding the ball to just beyond half court and heaving up a desperation buzzer-beater that clanged off the back of the rim.

“Our guys played it just like we told them we wanted them to. We wanted them to try to inbound the basketball in front of half court and that’s what we did,” Donovan explained. “The worst thing you want to do in that situation is foul or have them throw the ball all the way into the lane and get sealed off and give a layup up. … I thought our guys did a good job. He almost made a heck of a shot, so you gotta give the kid credit for at least giving the ball a chance to go in.”


In a game where points were hard to come by, sophomore guard Michael Frazier II was a breath of fresh air in the second half. He made 5-of-8 three-point attempts during the game and finished with 17 points, more than any other two plays on the Gators with the exception of senior F Casey Prather (19 points).

Donovan ran some offense for Frazier in the second half – and it paid off. “Frazier I thought carried us in terms of his threes were very, very timely and helped open up a lead,” the coach said.

Frazier’s ability to drain threes is his most valuable asset for Florida right now as Donovan admitted that Frazier is “not the best playmaker off the dribble,” which is why he did not have the ball in his hands at the end of the game. He did, however, praise his consistency as a three-point shooter.

Though Donovan said only three players he ever coached had flawless form – Travis Ford, Brett Nelson and Mike Miller – he put Frazier in a class with other big names.

“I think that he is as good as any guy I’ve seen that’s been here – Matt Bonner, Lee Humphrey. He stays in the gym hours upon hours upon hours. That’s why he’s a good shooter. He does not get bored with repetition,” Donovan explained. “I think that’s why he’s good at it because he really works at it – as hard as anyone I’ve ever been around.”


If Friday’s contest looked overly physical, especially in light of the new rules, that’s because it was officiated quite differently than most games you have seen this season. Donovan was careful with his words after the game but did discuss the officiating.

“It’s hard right now for me as a coach. I think the officials are adjusting, too. I think they’re doing the best they can. All you can ask for as a coach is for the game to be officiated consistently. I thought it was officiated consistently tonight,” he said.

“I didn’t see a whole bunch of change in the rules tonight, you know what I mean? But it’s our job to adjust to it. … Sometimes the games are being officiated differently from game to game. So I think this is going to be a challenge for everybody. … I thought the game was officiated very fairly, I thought it was officiated very well. I just thought it was a very, very physical game.”

The teams combined to take 47 foul shots but that number most certainly would have been higher had the crew been following some of the new hand-check rules, for example. Nevertheless, the physical nature of the contest did not bother Florida. The Gators grabbed 20 offense rebounds on the night and played exactly how Donovan asked because they knew exactly what they would be facing heading into the contest.

“That’s what we expected from Florida State. It was a tough game. They’re a good team,” Finney-Smith said. “We knew from previous times they played that this game was going to come down to loose balls and it’s going to be a tough game.”


» Donovan on Florida’s overall performance: “I thought it was a really ugly game for us, and give Florida State credit, they probably had something to do with it. I didn’t think we played great. We didn’t take advantage of what was there. … In reality, we’re playing with six scholarship players. The one thing I was proud about tonight was our guys battled and fought and competed. I thought the game for us, to give ourselves a chance to win, was going to come down to the 50/50 balls, hustle plays. To see us get 20 offensive rebounds in the game, give our guys credit for chasing it.”

» Donovan on redshirt junior walk-on F Jacob Kurtz, who went 3-for-4 for eight points with five rebounds: “I thought when Jake got in the game he gave us some very, very good, quality minutes. He rebounds. I trust him. He’s not much of a scorer, but you can really on him defensively. He knows what we’re doing on offense. He kind of just plays and he manages to get along the baseline, he’ll make a layup, he’ll get a steal, he’ll get his hands on the ball. I told you guys I thought he was a pretty good player before the season started. Thank God we have him right now just with what we’re battling with injuries and those kind of things. To go against a Florida State team that’s got a lot of depth, playing good basketball, to manage to find a way to win the game, I was happy for that considering we had such a hard time shooting the ball.”

» Prather on the game-ending heave: “I held my breath at first. It looked so good from where I was standing, I thought it was going in. I’m so glad it came out.”

» Finney-Smith on winning the game despite his hitting just 2-of-12 shots: “I’m proud cause we won. That’s all that matters. We came up with the win. I have to get back in the gym, but it’s not about me right now. I’m just happy we won.”


One Comment

  1. steve says:

    Do you have any idea of how Florida is going to solve there big man issues next year with a reasonable chance no big man there this year will be there next year and no big guy recruits coming in?

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